Posts tagged “Battle of Britain

Alone in the Dark / Working for Fighter Command


Alone in the Dark  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseEdward Carnby (Christian Slater) is a private investigator specializing in unexplainable supernatural phenomena.  His cases delve into the dark corners of the world, searching for truth in the occult remnants of ancient civilizations.  Now, the greatest mystery of his past is about to become the most dangerous case he has ever faced.  With the help of his ex-girlfriend, archaeologist Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), and his bitter rival, government agent Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff), Edward is about to learn that just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it cannot kill you!

2005  –  Certificate Not Rated  –  German/Canadian Film
4.0 out of 10

I hate this time of year.  It’s not just the fact that all the good bits of the winter are over and it’s still months until the summer; or the fact that I’ve got no money as I squandered it over the Christmas period; or even that there’s hardly ever any decent gigs to go to.  No, it’s also the time of year when everyone I care for dies and my relationships always end.  On top of all this, it’s when we write our Financial Plan at work too.  The latter is less a mathematical exercise and more a futile attempt to predict the future; (and the scale of my successes in the National Lottery over the past 20 years nicely demonstrates how well my precognitive abilities have been developed).  The process bares all the hallmarks of Fighter Command at the height of the Battle of Britain, wondering where the next plane or pilot is going to come from, as its fully committed assets are quickly depleted.  The consequences of all this is that it generally feels like we’re looking into a dark, bottomless abyss, as the world as we know it ends.  (Although on the up side, we are still here after nearly 55 years).  More to the point, I have to spend this afternoon and evening working, because I’ve been told to move loads of numbers about in mine; I’m not sure why, they won’t get any bigger however many times I move them.  This film is also about the end of the world as we know it.

Other than all the things and people I hate, despise or loathe, I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going, laid-back, tolerant guy.  But even I have my limits and this film has just reached one.  What makes things worse is that it could have been really good.  The story’s fine (it’s based on a computer game), the effects are decent enough (the gun-shot one borders on impressive) and even I’ve heard of its three, principal actors.  Christian Slater was the Communications Officer on the Excelsior for goodness sake; it’s not the most challenging bridge job around that’s true, but it was on Captain Sulu’s ship so that must count for something.  And Tara Reid, the Choir Chick from “American Pie”, gets given some glasses to wear, so she can look intelligent and thus play the part of an archaeologist.  The chase scene, (once we’ve got over the longest “Star Wars” like preamble in cinematic history), is actually pretty good too.  Unfortunately, the characters are so poorly written that the Oxford English Dictionary is considering using them as part of its official definition of one-dimensional.  The Alpha Male rivalry between Richard Burke and Edward Carnby is a key plot element.  (Edward used to work with Richard, so consequently they scowl at one another a lot.)  It’s probably fair to say they don’t get on, aren’t each others’ friends on Facebook and don’t send one another Christmas cards, not even e-cards.  Then, in the middle of a big battle Edward shoots a ‘bad guy’ who’s coming up behind Richard.  The latter gives Edward a brief nod of gratitude.   This incident is never acknowledged or further developed, but from then on they’re instantly the best of buddies.  Is that what it takes to remove years of personal animosity?  Maybe I’ve entirely missed some sort of gay subplot, which would explain a great many things, as well as why Edward and Aline are ex-lovers. The whole film is littered with a garbage script and stereotypical characters that act in nonsensical ways.  I especially enjoyed the Abkani (they’re the bad guys) charging towards some soldiers and then basically stopping a few metres in front of them to growl and throw their limbs around a lot, thus allowing the latter to blast away at them for ages and ages; not that the sight of thousands of rounds of ammunition fired at point blank range not seeming to have much of an effect, puts them off trying.  When I see a movie like this I want to really believe the world is about to end, not keep glancing at the clock to see how long I’ve been watching it for.  So basically it’s great, except for the characters and everything they say or do…

It has a Scandinavian, heavy metal soundtrack.  Nightwish aside, this tells you a lot.  Listen up.  Heavy metal (and all its sub-genera) should never be used for any film with a budget of over $500,000, ever.  It’s just not right.

The trailer’s like the rest of the movie; it seems to promise lots but contains nothing.

Recommended for archaeologists, private investigators, ‘Government agents’ and anyone who wears glasses to look intelligent.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At one point Steven Dorff throws a bit of a wobbly.  He picks up a few bits of paper (probably the script), scans them briefly and then pushes over a table and screams out, “My guys are dying out there for nothing; for fucking nothing!”  Seeing an actor demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence by empathising with the audience whilst also staying in character, just has to be badass.

Alone in the Dark at IMDB (2.3 / 10)
Alone in the Dark at Wikipedia
Alone in the Dark at YouTube

No trailer I’m afraid, thanks to YouTube blocking the video.  Liongate clearly doesn’t want anyone to find out about this film!

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Puberty Blues / A New Type of Hero


Puberty Blues  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Australian ReleasePanel vans, drive-ins, friendship rings & surfie beads.  The ultimate coming-of-age film “Puberty Blues” is back.  Based on the novel by the same name, written by the infamous Salami Sisters, namely Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, “Puberty Blues” traces the adventures of Debbie (Nell Schofield) and her life-long companion Sue (Jad Capelja).  Two teenagers are desperately trying to break into the “in” group who dominate Greenhill Beach.  Once they are accepted into the group, they realise that the laid-back, ultra-cool façade is just that: a glossy cover-up.  As they fall into all of the group’s vices, including drug-usage and casual sex, they willingly present themselves to the males of the group as virtual slaves, ready to serve their pre-chosen lover’s every need.  Soon though, the girls grow tired of playing the victim role, and they work to regain respect and equality.  From the Academy Award Winning Australian Director Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”, “The Club”, “Barry McKenzie” & “Black Robe”), “Puberty Blues” is the ultimate Australian beach classic.

1981  –  Certificate: M  –  Australian Film
7.0 out of 10

As you should already know, I’ve recently become a fully fledged Pavement Warrior, in recognition of my bravery in standing up to greedy, urban footpath-hogging bastards.  Just because this is an entirely self-administered qualification, shouldn’t reduce its significance.  Indeed, as I’m the only Pavement Warrior in existence, it does in fact make the award all the more special.  As part of my walk to and from work, I have to pass the planet-sized Tesco store on the Oxford Road in Reading.  Behind the store is its car park, a car park so big that the other side of it is hidden by the curvature of the Earth.  I have little choice but to cross this expanse of tarmac on my journey, corner to corner.  Given its lack of surface features I need to navigate by compass; the tarmac interferes with GPS signals by destabilising the Earth’s magnetic field, as its metallic components combine with a thousand lost Smartphone signals to set up a sort of virtual Faraday Cage.  Many a time I’ve come across lost shoppers, wondering hopelessly amongst the endless rectangular parking bays, surviving on the remains of their shopping, desperate to locate their cars before they starve to death; (which is somewhat ironic given the nature of Tesco’s core business).  In winter I battle hurricane force winds and horizontal rain; whilst in summer baking hot temperatures and sunlight reflected from the ground, test me to my physical and mental limits.  Now, you know those films where heroes walk out to their aircraft, before flying off to almost certain death?  I’m thinking of “Battle of Britain” or Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”.  (Except in the “Battle of Britain” they always ran to their aircraft and they were genuine heroes, whilst Tom Cruise swaggered to his jet like the overpaid Hollywood actor he is.)  Well today in the Tesco car park I saw something very similar.  Two guys were slowly walking out across the barren tarmac, their hair blowing in the summer wind, dressed in their Tesco high-vis jackets.  They were going to their home delivery vans.  I knew they were about to go ‘out there’ alone, face unknown horrors*, deliver their payloads and if lucky, God willing, return safely again.  (*Such as ignorant home-shoppers who don’t even help them carry the bags from the vans to their kitchen tables, because they paid a few pounds for the privilege of having someone else do their shopping for them and expect to treat the delivery guys like their personal slaves for five minutes.)  As they started their engines and drove slowly out of sight, I felt quite humbled and I’m not ashamed to admit it bought a lump to my throat.  Home delivery drivers are the new heroes!  This film has two heroes of its own.

Made in 1981, this movie is a nearly random slice of life in what I guessed passed for teenage normality in Australia around that time in the sort of place it features.  This appeared to consist of thoughtless guys on surfboards who just put up with girls so they could have sex, (or root them as they tended to put it); and stupid young women who went along with this.  It has all the normal stuff you’d expect, late periods, drug overdoses, drinking too much, ‘condom problems’, parental confusion, an ‘in-crowd’, drive-ins, ‘growing-up’, etc.  This is an unusual film, in that it’s pretty boring but weirdly compelling too.  For some reason Debbie reminded me of Wayne Rooney.  (Facially at least; I doubt Rooney’s body looks like hers in a bikini.)

I hated the theme tune.  Strangely it fitted the move well, but it was a dreadful dirge of the worst kind.  However, I did rather like the version of Split Enz’s “Nobody Takes Me Seriously” that plays over the ‘climatic scene’ near the end of the movie.

Recommended for surfers, Australians, fans of Australian school uniforms (like they used to wear in “Neighbours”) and Wayne Rooney haters.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A lovely black cat makes an appearance in a bedroom scene.  (No, not ‘that’ sort of bedroom scene).  It provides a master-class in how to lay on a bed and look cute.

Top badass moment?  After 77 minutes of film-time living in the gender stone-age, Debbie and Sue finally realise that they can be something more.  Overcoming a lifetime of stereotyping has got to hard-core badass.

Puberty Blues at IMDB (5.7 / 10)

Puberty Blues at Wikipedia


The Longest Day: 3.0 Stars


The Longest Day  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Once again, my ego is crushed as an epic film disappoints me.  I was so totally convinced that this was a documentary about doing my Financial Plan at work a couple of months ago.  Okay, so it says on the box that it was made in 1962, but I thought that was just a typo.  In the old days (well last year) we used to write budget forecasts, but now we prepare Financial Plans.  These involve filling in hundreds and hundreds of little boxes with numbers.  (Technically they’re rectangles, but you know what I mean.)  Anyway, it takes a long time to fill in all those little boxes and doing so makes me feel quite heroic, even though, at the time, it’s hell.  Every number I fill in that represents income is like a shot at the evil, triple alliance of decrepit resources, job loss and bankruptcy.  It’s like I’m defending Cactus World and its allies from certain doom, which in fact is exactly what I am doing.  So imagine my disappointment when I found out this film was about something called the Second World War.  Bloody hell, it’s not even the original, it’s just a sequel. How ego deflating is that?

1962  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details:  Mild Violence

There are some great war films out there; this isn’t one of them.  Despite its epic scale, it somehow doesn’t feel epic very often.  It has so many characters in it that you scarcely get to know any of them before we’re whisked off to meet someone else. Yet you never really get a feel for the magnitude of what’s going on, or learn anything much either.  It doesn’t work as a character study film (“Private Ryan”) or a fictional documentary (“Battle of Britain”); it’s just a load of A-listers in cameos with their own little stories, few of which actually join up in any useful way.  As far as the Invasion goes, all I learnt was that we were having a normal crappy summer weather-wise, the Nazi’s made loads of mistakes because they were too arrogant, the rest of us blundered about in the dark lost and the air forces from both sides basically went on holiday.  It wouldn’t really matter of course, but this was a significant point in history and a lot of people lost their lives or were horribly injured, etc.  They deserve something better than Robert Mitchum and John Wayne wondering about acting like gung-ho heroes; Wayne with his broken ankle and Mitchum with his soggy cigar and drug-addict eyes.  I can where Captain Kirk got his inspiration from.  It’s sort of annoying how it just ends too; I know it’s The Longest Day and all that, but after 171 minutes I’d liked to have had a bit of closure, but it just kind of, ends; not unlike the trailer acually.

Recommended for people with three hours to spare.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  There were plenty of heroes in this movie, but the real badass ones are those that actually took part in this event for real.  Yes, even the American ones.  Ironically, modern Germany is light years away from the one depicted in this film, whereas some of us still think we’re fighting the war and running an empire.  Losers.

The Longest Day at IMDB (7.8 / 10)


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Why is watching England play football like a re-enactment of the Battle of Britain, every time?  My life expectancy has been reduced by another six months this evening.

Did anyone see John Terry trying to keep up with one of the Swedish players on the edge of the penalty area at one point?  It was pitiful.  It felt like I was watching a video of myself dancing.

Right now I’m listening to the  “Violin Concerto in D major Op. 77  –  Part 1” by Johannes Brahms.